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Cilantro Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa: Here Goes

When you’ve been living with someone for a while, you kind of forget what it’s like to be alone. I used to be really good at being alone. You may have guessed by now — I’m an only child. Have been now for 28 years of my life. My mother jokes that she didn’t have more children because I told her that I didn’t want any brothers or sisters. I was perfectly satisfied being by myself. I always had my own room, my own toys, and my own birthday parties. The transition to sharing came in college, when I was roomed with a young lady named Keely — we couldn’t have been more different from each other (but that’s another story).

When you’re really good at being alone, it can be hard to adjust to being with somebody. Sharing a bed. Hell, sharing a BLANKET. Sharing the television. Sometimes sharing a camera. Sharing money. And a bank account. What surprised me the most about getting married was that sharing wasn’t so hard. I’m happy to share my closet space and bathroom counter space. I’m happy to share dessert (well, ok, only if it’s what I want to order). But when you spend a lot of time sharing, something interesting happens: you forget what it’s like to not share. Especially when it comes to time.

When Matt is gone for a few days, my home kinda stops feeling like my home. And despite the fact that there are plenty of friends to hang out with, my family, not to mention just stuff to do — I’m never really sure where to start. I try to tell myself that being by myself is the perfect time to relive the ‘single me’: grab cocktails with girlfriends, get my nails done, not make a fuss in the kitchen, listen to pop songs loudly, watch trashy reality television shows. But these are things I still do as a married person. I usually keep myself busy when I’m home by myself, but I’ve definitely realized something recently: being alone — it’s not so fun, even if it means you don’t have to share.

So today I’m posting a recipe that’s meant to be shared. It’s from one of my recent loves: the My Nepenthe cookbook. The cookbook, which I also recently gifted to a friend, is one I’ve written about before. I just can’t get enough of the simple, California-fresh ingredients. We might be predictable here in the Bay Area (and serve figs on a platter and call it dessert and all that, but I don’t really care). This chicken is glorious. It’s simple, fresh, and a perfect way to welcome the dog days of summer, everywhere but in San Francisco.

Lastly, just wanted to thank every one of you who has reached out to Matt and I this past week following the news that his mother was in the hospital. Miraculously, she’s doing well, back home and recovering. The experience definitely put things into perspective.

Cilantro Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa
adapted from My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur
*serves 4

For the chicken skewers:

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1-inch wide strips
2 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped finely
salt and pepper, to taste
lime juice from 2 freshly-squeezed limes
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

For the mango salsa:

1 mango, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
1/2 red onion, diced finely
1/2 small bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:

few handfuls of arugula
lime wedges
extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the chicken into a shallow dish or a large Ziplock bag and smother with the garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. While the chicken marinades: combine the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. The original recipe calls for white pepper, but I’m just not a fan of it, so I use freshly ground black pepper.
3. Heat a stovetop grill pan to medium-high. Thread several pieces of chicken onto each bamboo skewer, pushing them together. Don’t toss the marinade. Grill the skewers for about 12-16 minutes, rotating them to make sure they cook evenly and baste them with the reserved marinade.
4. To serve, place a handful of arugula on each plate. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Place a few skewers on top of the greens and top with a few spoonfuls of mango salsa. Keep the extra salsa, lime wedges and additional salt and pepper on hand at the table.

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • It’s funny, I recently went on a little getaway and told the husband, “You’ll have fun without me around” to which he responded, “I thought so, but it’s not fun when you’re gone.” What you’ve written here is so true. By the way, the recipe sounds great- I’m obsessed with mangoes right now!

  • So, so true! And, the funny part is, the longer you’re married, the less fun being alone becomes. I still cherish my “alone time” but I don’t require it as much as I did when I was single. I guess that’s part of the beauty of living with your very best friend.

    Great recipe, once again. And, hopefully, the summer-like flavors will spur a bit of sunshine around here!

  • nicole

    Looks so fresh and delicious! I love the color going on in the mango salsa. SO glad to hear Matt’s mom is doing well.

  • Sounds FANtastic!

  • Sara

    Kasey! It’s gorgeous and I NEED that cookbook 🙂 I grew up with a younger sister and am still terrible at sharing. Like you said, it’s easier with a spouse, but I have been known to hide treats that I would like to savor slowly, knowing he would scarf them quickly. Loved your writing…

  • Jess, my husband recently told me he feels the same way. He looks forward to ordering pizza and playing video games but says, “the pizza doesn’t taste as good as I remember and playing video games alone isn’t fun. Plus, I still go out with the guys for beers when you’re here.’ It’s cute when they miss us like that, too 🙂

  • I posted this just so that the sun could come out in SF 😉 It’s pretty great to live with your best friend!

  • Nicole, thank you so much for checking in on us last week – we were both very touched by your well wishes. xx

  • Sara! Yes, I think you’d really love it…so many super fresh, produce-focused recipes in that book. I hear you about having a hard time sharing, despite having a sibling. Love that you hide treats from your hubby. You guys are adorable. Thank you so much for commenting on my writing, that means a lot to me! xx

  • Looks delicious. Love that first shot! Great color and energy.

  • As soon as I saw that photo, I thought, “I want to go to there.”

    I’ve been searching for a good mango salsa–and something good to eat it with. Thanks! 🙂

  • Glad you found us! xx

  • Thanks, Brandon! I appreciate it.

  • Glad to hear Matt’s mom is doing okay. And this sounds just lovely. (And perfect for summer, if we ever get a warm day!) Another cookbook I probably would’ve never considered. 🙂

  • Michael Fox

    Great recipe, we make this a lot. Actually, we’re making it right now! We usually have tuna tartare as a first course with this, it’s a great warm summer night combo.

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